When the temperature drops and snow blankets the streets, our community can turn into a winter wonderland. However, lurking behind this majestic scene lies a host of very real dangers for older adults. Cold, ice and snow can combine to make winter a most unwelcoming season for seniors, a time of year when instances of injury and illness spike among older residents. For example, the danger of falling and becoming severely injured rises significantly for seniors during the winter months as ice and snowy obstacles take their toll. Luckily, we’ve put together five tips on preparing for winter for seniors who live at home so you can stay safe and comfortable while enjoying the beauty of a fresh snowfall or the cheer of the holiday season. Support for Seniors and the Community to Better Independent Living
1. Stockpile Helpful Contacts
A helping hand is one sure way to reduce your risk of accidents or illnesses during the winter months. Whether it’s snow removal, grocery home delivery, furnace repair or emergency response, it’s always wise to have the number of a company, service or individual who is willing and able to help out when challenges arise. Having these contacts on hand will not only minimize your exposure to the dangers of shovelling snow, being without heat or any other issue, but it will mean a quicker response and less time waiting.
2. Ensure There’s Always Extra Heat
Electricity isn’t the most reliable utility during winter storms, icy mornings and holiday lulls and losing power when the temperature is below zero could lead to all sorts of dangerous results, from the flu to hypothermia and even frostbite. Having a Plan B for when your house becomes a little too frosty will go a long way to staying safe and comfortable during the winter. Make sure to wear layers, have extra blankets at the ready, invest in a hot water bottle if you haven’t already and have an emergency generator or a battery powered space heater on hand just in case.
3. Make A Meal Plan That Works
It’s impossible to control Mother Nature and what happens with the weather during winter, but one element of seasonal health you can take hold of is nutrition. You may eat well all year round, but the cold, dreary months require a few special additions to your daily menu in order to keep your body strong and able to fight off injury or illness. Food like fatty fish and eggs provide crucial vitamin D you miss when winter blots out the sun, leafy greens and red meat have lots of nutrients that boost your immune system and hot foods like soup keep you hydrated, healthy and warm.
4. Plan Ways To Stay Active
There are no shortage of ways to get out and be active during warmer seasons, but venturing outside becomes a nuisance, and a risky liability, in the winter. That is why it is important to plan ways to stay active when going into the colder months. Exercising and staying physically fit will help your immune system fight off illness and keep you strong to avoid falls and other injuries. Plan a at-home workout schedule that fits your mobility and health. Staying mentally active is also crucial. Plan mentally stimulating activities you can do at home, whether that’s puzzles, crafts, home brewing, cooking or chatting with friends over FaceTime or Skype.
5. Tweak Your House To Make It Winter Ready
There are a lot of little tweaks older adults can make to their houses to thwart winter’s icy grip and dangerous conditions. Make sure all windows and doors are secure and all cracks are sealed. Remember to put plastic mats at all entrances to prevent slippery surfaces from tracking snow into the house. Salt pathways and driveways frequently to prevent falls on icy surfaces. Lastly, make sure you check your heating, power, phone and other utilities to ensure they are in tip-top shape and working how they should ahead of winter’s arrival.